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Christians want to save gays from Hell — Islam wants to send gays to Hell!

I have written about Islam for over a decade. One thing I have learned is that the more Islamic (shariah law) compliant an individual, organization or nation state the more dangerous and deadly they are. I have also written about how the Democratic Party is made up of groups that are fundamentally at odds with one another. However, they have joined together because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The Church Militant’s Michael Voris did a compelling analysis of what happened in Orlando. Voris points out:

The liberal alliance has brought various factions together, with one common goal: to end Catholic morality’s influence on Western civilization.

There are indeed some strange pairings in this liberal alliance: homosexualists, the Democratic Party, the mainstream media and Islam. Whatever differences Islam and liberals have, they have been willing to overlook them to join forces against the common enemy of Christianity, specifically Catholicism.

[ … ]

One point needs to become very clear to all those who wish to paint the Church as an enemy of gays: We want you saved. Islam wants you dead. And let’s be very clear: The Catholic Church wants to save gays from Hell. Islam wants to send gays to Hell. [Emphasis added]

That liberal alliance has been sorely tested after the massacre in Orlando by Omar Mateen, a devout follower of Mohammed.

In my May 14,  2016 column New Democrat Party: The Red–Green–Rainbow Troika I noted:

I have written that President Obama’s greatest political achievement has been to fundamentally transform the Democratic Party. The New Democratic Party (NDP) is an alliance which I call the Red-Green-Rainbow Troika or RGRT. It consists of new groups that Democrats have not historically allied themselves with, until now.

The NDP has made it its mission to protect the “civil rights and civil liberties” of groups that are both incompatible with one another and with mainstream America.

The groups are incompatible for a number of reasons including:

  1. Communists hate Muslims and gays.
  2. Muslims hate Communists and execute gays (sodomites).
  3. Gays hate all religions, but make an exception for Islam (i.e. the enemy of my enemy is my friend).

At some point these divergent groups will turn on one another.

As Ayn Rand wrote:

The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.

Here are some of the absurdities that have become the official ideology of the neo-Democrat Party:

  • The greatest national security threat is climate change (i.e. formerly global warming).
  • White Christian men are a greater threat than the Islamic State, Iran and the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Spending on social programs is more important than spending on national security.
  • Engagement and dialogue with America’s enemies (i.e. Iran) is preferred to any form of confrontation.
  • Nationalized health care (the Affordable Care Act) is affordable.
  • Deficit spending is good for the economy and will create jobs.
  • Putting more Americans on the public dole is good for creating more government jobs.
  • Anyone who disagrees with the neo-Democrat Party policies is racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and a national security threat.
  • People don’t kill people, guns kill people (e.g. need to outlaw guns).
  • Public schools must teach children what to think, not how to think (i.e. Common Core).
  • Aborting the unborn and selling their body parts is noble.
  • Bigger government, more regulations and centralized powers and greater control over the behaviors of citizens is good.
  • Coal, oil and natural gas are evil.
  • Saving the planet is more important than saving the human race.
  • A weak America is good for world peace.
  • The Judeo/Christian God is dead.

On November 8th, 2016 millions will vote for the RGRT candidate for president. If that happens then the policies of the current administration will become the new social order.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Orlando Attack Is a Failure of Obama’s ‘Politically Correct’ Policy, Analysts Say

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Black Lives Matter’s LGBTQ Agenda

What Marriage Was Like before Bureaucracy Marriage by Sarah Skwire

Marriage is not what it once was.

FEE contributor Steve Horwitz’s new book, Hayek’s Modern Family, reminds us all that “the use of ‘traditional’ as an adjective for either marriage or the family more generally is … ahistorical.” Marriage and the family, he argues, have always been changing and evolving institutions, and we are mistaken when we take the practices of one period and valorize them, and them alone, as “traditional.”

What is true for the institutions of marriage and the family is also true for the institutions of betrothal and weddings. By now, we all surely know that traditions like the white wedding dress and the diamond engagement ring are late innovations. The white dress came about after Queen Victoria set the fashion when she married Prince Albert. And while rings had been a popular wedding token for a long time, the diamond engagement ring became all the rage only after a successful campaign by DeBeers in the 1930s. But it is not merely the decorative furbelows that are modern innovations. Nearly everything we think of as defining a betrothal and a wedding used to be up for debate.

The Arnolfini Marriage PortraitI spent some time recently looking at and discussing Jan van Eyck’s famous painting The Arnolfini Portrait. The painting is probably most often called The Arnolfini Marriage Portrait, though scholars have debated for decades over whether it depicts a wedding, a betrothal, or some other legal ceremony. Others have felt it might simply be a portrait of a married couple, or even a memorial for a wife who died young. We’re not entirely sure.

But in the discussion I was involved in, we thought of the painting as a wedding portrait. Because of that, several of the folks involved were a little startled to see the woman looking decidedly pregnant. (In much the same way that we don’t really know the occasion for the portrait, we don’t really know that the woman is pregnant. The style of her dress may just make her appear to be. But to a modern eye, she looks at least seven months along.) Was van Eyck making a moral judgment on the sexual morality of this couple — depicting them as newly married, but with a pregnancy that far advanced? Or is her pregnancy an argument against the notion that this is a wedding portrait, since 15th century morality would not have allowed for premarital sex and pregnancy? What kind of wedding portrait was this, exactly?

I’ll leave the arguments about the accuracy of our thinking about The Arnolfini Portrait to the art historians. What I want to talk about is the accuracy of our thinking about what weddings used to look like.

As the historian Lawrence Stone points out in his book The Family, Sex, and Marriage,

Before 1754 there were still numerous ways of entering into [marriage]. For persons of property it involved a series of distinct steps. The first was a written legal contract between the parents concerning the financial arrangements. The second was the spousals (also called a contract), the formal exchange, usually before witnesses, of oral promises. The third step was the public proclamation of banns in church, three times, the purpose of which was to allow claims of pre-contract to be heard.… The fourth step was the wedding in church, in which mutual consent was publicly verified, and the union received the formal blessing of the Church. The fifth and final step was the sexual consummation.

While parts of the process Stone describes are a little antiquated, they don’t seem completely unfamiliar. And the whole thing sounds remarkably orderly — though it is worth noting that wealthier couples found ways to evade the more tedious parts of the process, such as the triple proclamation of banns, by buying a special license. But the apparent orderliness and familiarity of the process falls apart rapidly when we look just a little more closely.

Stone continues, “But it cannot be emphasized too strongly that according to ecclesiastical law the spousals was as legally binding a contract as the church wedding.… Any sort of exchange of promises before witnesses which was followed by cohabitation was regarded in law as a valid marriage.”

Marriage required no certification by the church or the state. Two individuals merely promised to marry one another in front of witnesses, and then lived together. That was sufficient. And sex and pregnancy in the months between the spousals and a church wedding, if one ever got around to having a church wedding, were routine and accepted.

This sounds like an ideal situation from a libertarian perspective. It’s certainly how I’d prefer that marriages take place. But things soon got even more complicated.

After the Reformation, the Catholic Church required the presence of a priest for a wedding to be valid. The Anglicans did not, though a church wedding came to be expected. However, lawyers still recognized the spousals as valid. And they distinguished between two kinds of spousals — one was not followed by consummation and could be broken. The other was followed by consummation and was binding for life.

Stone reminds us of a few other complexities.

The canons of 1604 stipulated that a church wedding must take place between the hours of 8 am and noon in the church at the place of residence of one of the pair, after the banns had been read for three weeks running. Marriages performed at night, in secular places like inns or private houses, or in towns or villages remote from the place of residence … were now declared illegal [but] they were nonetheless valid and binding for life. This was a paradox the laity found hard to understand.

It could be hard to tell, in other words, if you were married or not. It could be hard to tell, in other words, whether one was engaging in legal married sex or illicit and illegal fornication.

This problem is a key part of Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure, which begins with the arrest of Claudio for fornication with Juliette. Claudio is shocked to be accused of the crime, because, as he says:

… she is fast my wife
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order.

But with the exacting Angelo now in charge of the city, the more rigorous definition of a legal marriage is being enforced, and Claudio is in trouble.

The attempt to codify and enforce a well-understood and long-standing traditional practice made that practice so complicated that it was incomprehensible and often made criminals out of well-intentioned and honest individuals. (Those who are thinking about the mess that is the discussion of bathroom laws in North Carolina may find that problem familiar.)

There’s little doubt now about who is married and who is not married. The United States has spent years in a painful debate over that question, but we finally do have legal clarity. But as two dear friends of mine head down the aisle this month and I listen to the complications and fees they are facing over the licensing of their marriage and their officiant, I do wonder if we’ve solved anything since the days of spousals contracted in front of witnesses or if we’ve just piled on unnecessary layers of legal complications, forms, and fees.

Sarah SkwireSarah Skwire

Sarah Skwire is the poetry editor of the Freeman and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis. She is a member of the FEE Faculty Network. Email

Why Schools Don’t Learn by Kevin Currie-Knight

The last 100 years have seen drastic technological innovations — from the way we communicate to the way we travel to the way we consume entertainment. One thing that hasn’t changed is the way we do school. Teacher, chalkboard, lesson, test, move up a grade, repeat.

Maybe the best argument for school choice is that we have no idea what kind of innovations could improve education until we allow radical competition. After all, if government ran the entertainment industry, we might still be watching black and white movies and listening to phonograph records. Instead, we stream films and songs online through a galaxy of services from Netflix and Hulu to Pandora and Spotify.

Where We Are

Think about how many features of our existing education system are wrongly treated as inevitable:

  1. Students are segregated by age. This means that all students have the same amount of time to learn a certain amount of stuff in nth grade before we test them to see if they can move to grade n + 1.
  2. We divide our school curricula into discrete subjects: math, science, language, history, arts, physical education, and so on. Students learn the math required to do science in math class and read about history in history class but read literature in English class.
  3. The school day starts in the early morning and runs until mid-afternoon, and the school year is a fairly big chunk of 175 to 180 days (with a few small breaks) followed by a two- to three-month summer break.

These are just three routine features of school that we barely notice, let alone question.

Once we do question them, alternatives quickly come to mind. One could imagine, for instance, a school that didn’t teach math, science, and history as separate disciplines but found creative ways to teach them in combination — or schools that aren’t automatically structured by age.

School choice allows schools to experiment with different curricula and teaching approaches, but it also allows them to experiment by modifying some of those features that we often take for granted but probably shouldn’t.

How We Got Here

To fully appreciate the need for experimentation in educational spaces, let me introduce two terms, one from behavioral psychology, the other from economics. The first is status quo bias, which sounds like what it means. Behavioral psychologists have discovered in people a marked (often unconscious and uncritical) acceptance of the way things are. When we experience the world a certain way, we often become attached to that way without even realizing our attachment. Of course students are divided into grades based roughly on age. Of course we teach science and history in different classes.

The second term, from political science, is path dependence. Path dependence is the idea that certain things come to be the way they are because past decisions affect the range of available subsequent choices. Picture a business spending lots of money on a certain software program that everyone at the company learns. The business and employees will become so invested in the current program that it will be hard to switch to a different one later. Even if a much better program comes along, the cost of switching may become prohibitively high, so the company will stick with what it knows.

Path dependence caused the unquestioned features of our education system to evolve the way they did. Why are schools open in fall, winter, and spring but closed during summer? The myth is that this schedule has to do with the days when kids were expected to work on farms, but really the shape of the school calendar is a vestige of the pre-air-conditioning era.

With widespread air conditioning, why do we continue to adjourn for summers? Because we have structured so much of our social fabric on the idea that kids and teachers have summers off. Theme parks, summer vacation destinations, and other business interests depend on kids having summer breaks. Parents plan for their children to be off during the summer. Summer break has a cultural inertia akin to a company’s commitment to legacy software. Once we get used to schooling done a certain way, we come to think of that as how school should be done, which ensures that even things like summer break continue well past their usefulness. That’s path dependence.

Status quo bias factors in when we become so used to schools having a summer break (or operating from early morning to mid-afternoon, Monday through Friday) that we fail to think of this system as anything but the way it has to be.

The Way Forward

Surpassing the educational equivalent of legacy software is precisely what makes school choice important. Competition allows some people to experiment with different ways of doing things while others can stick with what’s familiar. Markets also disrupt the kind of lock-in that path dependence often creates. While it may be costly for our imagined business to switch to the new software, other businesses may find it easier, and the market will help decide which decision was wiser.

One could object, of course, that new alternative schools — with their different schedules of operation or different approaches to curricula — will get things wrong, to the detriment of students. Yes, some schools will try what ultimately fails. But unlike big centralized bureaucracies, businesses learn quickly from their failures and adapt — or they go broke. Contrast that process to the time it takes for government to abandon a program everyone knows isn’t working.

Unless you think the current school system is doing fine, the only way forward is through innovation, and innovation requires the sort of experimentation that happens naturally in the free market.

Kevin Currie-KnightKevin Currie-Knight

Kevin Currie-Knight teaches in East Carolina University’s Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research. His website is KevinCK.net. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Ideas, Not ‘Capital,’ Enriched the World by Deirdre N. McCloskey

Why are we so rich? Who are “we”? Have our riches corrupted us?

“The Bourgeois Era,” a series of three l-o-n-g books just completed  — thank God — answers:

  • first, in The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006), that the commercial bourgeoisie — the middle class of traders, dealers, inventors, and managers — is on the whole, contrary to the conviction of the “clerisy” of artists and intellectuals after 1848, pretty good. Not bad.
  • second, in Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (2010), that the modern world was made not by the usual material causes, such as coal or thrift or capital or exports or imperialism or good property rights or even good science, all of which have been widespread in other cultures and at other times. It was caused by very many technical and some few institutional ideas among a uniquely revalued bourgeoisie — on a large scale at first peculiar to northwestern Europe, and indeed peculiar from the sixteenth century to the Low Countries;
  • and third, in Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (2016), that a novel way of looking at the virtues and at bettering ideas arose in northwestern Europe from a novel liberty and dignity enjoyed by all commoners, among them the bourgeoisie, and from a startling revaluation starting in Holland by the society as a whole of the trading and betterment in which the bourgeoisie specialized.The revaluation, called “liberalism,” in turn derived not from some ancient superiority of the Europeans but from egalitarian accidents in their politics from 1517–1789. That is, what mattered were two levels of ideas — the ideas in the heads of entrepreneurs for the betterments themselves (the electric motor, the airplane, the stock market); and the ideas in the society at large about the businesspeople and their betterments (in a word, that liberalism). What were not causal were the conventional factors of accumulated capital and institutional change. They happened, but they were largely dependent on betterment and liberalism.

The upshot since 1800 has been a gigantic improvement for the poor, yielding equality of real comfort in health and housing, such as for many of your ancestors and mine, and a promise now being fulfilled of the same result worldwide — a Great Enrichment for even the poorest among us.

These are controversial claims. They are, you see, optimistic. Many of the left, such as my friend the economist and former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, or the French economist Thomas Piketty, and some on the right, such as my friend the American economist Tyler Cowen, believe we are doomed.

Yanis thinks that wealth is caused by imperial sums of capital sloshing around the world economy, and thinks in a Marxist and Keynesian way that the economy is like a balloon, puffed up by consumption, and about to leak. I think that the economy is like a machine making sausage, and if Greece or Europe want to get more wealth they need to make the machine work better — honoring enterprise, for example, and letting people work when they want to.

Piketty thinks that the rich get richer, always, and that the rest of us stagnate. I think it’s not true, even in his own statistics, and certainly not in the long run, and that what has mainly happened in the past two centuries is that the sausage machine has got tremendously more productive, benefiting mainly the poor.

Tyler thinks that improvements in the sausage machine are over. I think that if Tyler were so smart (and he is very smart), he would be rich, and anyway there is little evidence of technological stagnation, and anyway for at least the next century, the poor of the non-Western world will be catching up, enriching us all with their own betterments of the sausage machine.

In other words, I do not think we are doomed. I see over the next century a world enrichment both materially and spiritually that will give the wretched of the earth the lives of a present-day, bourgeois Dutch person.

For reasons I do not entirely understand, the clerisy after 1848 turned toward nationalism and socialism, and against liberalism. It came also to delight in an ever expanding list of pessimisms about the way we live now in our approximately liberal societies, from the lack of temperance among the poor to an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Anti-liberal utopias believed to offset the pessimisms have been popular among the clerisy. Its pessimistic and utopian books have sold millions.

But the twentieth-century experiments of nationalism and socialism, of syndicalism in factories and central planning for investment, of proliferating regulation for imagined but not factually documented imperfections in the market, did not work. And most of the pessimisms about how we live now have proven to be mistaken.

It is a puzzle. Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism or the environment or inequality. Please, for the good of the wretched of the earth, reconsider. The trilogy chronicles, explains, and defends what made us rich — the system we have had since 1800 or 1848, usually but misleadingly called modern “capitalism.”

The system should rather be called “technological and institutional betterment at a frenetic pace, tested by unforced exchange among all the parties involved.” Or “fantastically successful liberalism, in the old European sense, applied to trade and politics, as it was applied also to science and music and painting and literature.” The simplest version is “trade-tested progress.”

Many humans, in short, are now stunningly better off than their ancestors were in 1800. And the rest of humanity shows every sign of joining the enrichment. A crucial point is that the greatly enriched world cannot be explained in any deep way by the accumulation of capital, as economists from Adam Smith through Karl Marx to Varoufakis, Piketty, and Cowen have on the contrary believed, and as the very word “capitalism” seems to imply.

The word embodies a scientific mistake. Our riches did not come from piling brick on brick, or piling university degree on university degree, or bank balance on bank balance, but from piling idea on idea. The bricks, degrees, and bank balances — the capital accumulations — were of course necessary. But so were a labor force and liquid water and the arrow of time.

Oxygen is necessary for a fire. But it would be at least unhelpful to explain the Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871, by the presence of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. Better: a long dry spell, the city’s wooden buildings, a strong wind from the southwest, and, if you disdain Irish immigrants, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.

The modern world cannot be explained, I show in the second volume, Bourgeois Dignity, by routine brick-piling, such as the Indian Ocean trade, English banking, canals, the British savings rate, the Atlantic slave trade, natural resources, the enclosure movement, the exploitation of workers in satanic mills, or the accumulation in European cities of capital, whether physical or human. Such routines are too common in world history and too feeble in quantitative oomph to explain the thirty- or hundredfold enrichment per person unique to the past two centuries.

Hear again that last, crucial, astonishing fact, discovered by economic historians over the past few decades. It is: in the two centuries after 1800 the trade-tested goods and services available to the average person in Sweden or Taiwan rose by a factor of 30 or 100. Not 100 percent, understand — a mere doubling — but in its highest estimate a factor of 100, nearly 10,000 percent, and at least a factor of 30, or 2,900 percent.

The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has dwarfed any of the previous and temporary enrichments. Explaining it is the central scientific task of economics and economic history, and it matters for any other sort of social science or recent history. What explains it? The causes were not (to pick from the apparently inexhaustible list of materialist factors promoted by this or that economist or economic historian) coal, thrift, transport, high male wages, low female and child wages, surplus value, human capital, geography, railways, institutions, infrastructure, nationalism, the quickening of commerce, the late medieval run-up, Renaissance individualism, the First Divergence, the Black Death, American silver, the original accumulation of capital, piracy, empire, eugenic improvement, the mathematization of celestial mechanics, technical education, or a perfection of property rights.

Such conditions had been routine in a dozen of the leading organized societies of Eurasia, from ancient Egypt and China down to Tokugawa Japan and the Ottoman Empire, and not unknown in Meso-America and the Andes. Routines cannot account for the strangest secular event in human history, which began with bourgeois dignity in Holland after 1600, gathered up its tools for betterment in England after 1700, and burst on northwestern Europe and then the world after 1800.

The modern world was made by a slow-motion revolution in ethical convictions about virtues and vices, in particular by a much higher level than in earlier times of toleration for trade-tested progress — letting people make mutually advantageous deals, and even admiring them for doing so, and especially admiring them when Steve Jobs-like they imagine betterments.

Note: the crux was not psychology — Max Weber had claimed in 1905 that it was — but sociology. Toleration for free trade and honored betterment was advocated first by the bourgeoisie itself, then more consequentially by the clerisy, which for a century before 1848 admired economic liberty and bourgeois dignity, and in aid of the project was willing to pledge its life, fortune, and sacred honor.

After 1848 in places like the United States and Holland and Japan, the bulk of ordinary people came slowly to agree. By then, however much of the avant garde of the clerisy worldwide had turned decisively against the bourgeoisie, on the road to twentieth-century fascism and communism.

Yet in the luckier countries, such as Norway or Australia, the bourgeoisie was for the first time judged by many people to be acceptably honest, and was in fact acceptably honest, under new social and familial pressures. By 1900, and more so by 2000, the Bourgeois Revaluation had made most people in quite a few places, from Syracuse to Singapore, very rich and pretty good.

I have to admit that “my” explanation is embarrassingly, pathetically unoriginal. It is merely the economic and historical realization in actual economies and actual economic histories of eighteenth-century liberal thought. But that, after all, is just what the clerisy after 1848 so sadly mislaid, and what the subsequent history proved to be profoundly correct. Liberty and dignity for ordinary people made us rich, in every meaning of the word.

The change, the Bourgeois Revaluation, was the coming of a business-respecting civilization, an acceptance of the Bourgeois Deal: “Let me make money in the first act, and by the third act I will make you all rich.”

Much of the elite, and then also much of the non-elite of northwestern Europe and its offshoots, came to accept or even admire the values of trade and betterment. Or at the least the polity did not attempt to block such values, as it had done energetically in earlier times. Especially it did not do so in the new United States. Then likewise, the elites and then the common people in more of the world followed, including now, startlingly, China and India. They undertook to respect—or at least not to utterly despise and overtax and stupidly regulate—the bourgeoisie.

Why, then, the Bourgeois Revaluation that after made for trade-tested betterment, the Great Enrichment? The answer is the surprising, black-swan luck of northwestern Europe’s reaction to the turmoil of the early modern — the coincidence in northwestern Europe of successful Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution: “the Four Rs,” if you please. The dice were rolled by Gutenberg, Luther, Willem van Oranje, and Oliver Cromwell. By a lucky chance for England their payoffs were deposited in that formerly inconsequential nation in a pile late in the seventeenth century.

None of the Four Rs had deep English or European causes. All could have rolled the other way. They were bizarre and unpredictable. In 1400 or even in 1600 a canny observer would have bet on an industrial revolution and a great enrichment — if she could have imagined such freakish events — in technologically advanced China, or in the vigorous Ottoman Empire. Not in backward, quarrelsome Europe.

A result of Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution was a fifth R, a crucial Revaluation of the bourgeoisie, first in Holland and then in Britain. The Revaluation was part of an R-caused, egalitarian reappraisal of ordinary people. I retail here the evidence that hierarchy — as, for instance, in St. Paul’s and Martin Luther’s conviction that the political authorities that exist have been instituted by God — began slowly and partially to break down.

The cause of the bourgeois betterments, that is, was an economic liberation and a sociological dignifying of, say, a barber and wig-maker of Bolton, son of a tailor, messing about with spinning machines, who died in 1792 as Sir Richard Arkwright, possessed of one of the largest bourgeois fortunes in England. The Industrial Revolution and especially the Great Enrichment came from liberating commoners from compelled service to a hereditary elite, such as the noble lord in the castle, or compelled obedience to a state functionary, such as the economic planner in the city hall. And it came from according honor to the formerly despised of Bolton — or of Ōsaka, or of Lake Wobegon — commoners exercising their liberty to relocate a factory or invent airbrakes.

Not everyone accepted the Bourgeois Deal, even in the United States. There’s the worry: it’s not complete, and can be undermined by hostile attitudes and clumsy regulations. In Chicago you need a $300 business license to start a little repair service for sewing machines, but you can’t do it in your home because of zoning, arranged politically by big retailers. Likewise in Rotterdam, worse.

Antibourgeois attitudes survive even in bourgeois cities like London and New York and Milan, expressed around neo-aristocratic dinner tables and in neo-priestly editorial meetings. A journalist in Sweden noted recently that when the Swedish government recommended two centimeters of toothpaste on one’s brush no journalist complained:

[The] journalists . . . take great professional pride in treating with the utmost skepticism a press release or some new report from any commercial entity. And rightly so. But the big mystery is why similar output is treated differently just because it is from a government organization. It’s not hard to imagine the media’s response if Colgate put out a press release telling the general public to use at least two centimeters of toothpaste twice every day.

The bourgeoisie is far from ethically blameless. The newly tolerated bourgeoisie has regularly tried to set itself up as a new aristocracy to be protected by the state, as Adam Smith and Karl Marx predicted it would. And anyway even in the embourgeoisfying lands on the shores of the North Sea, the old hierarchy based on birth or clerical rank did not simply disappear on January 1, 1700.

Tales of pre- or antibourgeois life strangely dominated the high and low art of the Bourgeois Era. Flaubert’s and Hemingway’s novels, D’Annunzio’s and Eliot’s poetry, Eisenstein’s and Pasolini’s films, not to speak of a rich undergrowth of cowboy movies and spy novels, all celebrate peasant/proletariat or aristocratic values.

A hard coming we bourgeois have had of it. A unique liberalism was what freed the betterment of equals, starting in Holland in 1585, and in England and New England a century later. Betterment came largely out of a change in the ethical rhetoric of the economy, especially about the bourgeoisie and its projects.

You can see that “bourgeois” does not have to mean what conservatives and progressives mean by it, namely, “having a thoroughly corrupted human spirit.” The typical bourgeois was viewed by the Romantic, Scottish conservative Thomas Carlyle in 1843 as an atheist with “a deadened soul, seared with the brute Idolatry of Sense, to whom going to Hell is equivalent to not making money.”

Or from the other side, in 1996 Charles Sellers, the influential leftist historian of the United States, viewed the new respect for the bourgeoisie in America as a plague that would, between 1815 and 1846, “wrench a commodified humanity to relentless competitive effort and poison the more affective and altruistic relations of social reproduction that outweigh material accumulation for most human beings.”

Contrary to Carlyle and Sellers, however, bourgeois life is in fact mainly cooperative and altruistic, and when competitive it is good for the poorest among us. We should have more of it. The Bourgeois Deal does not imply, however, that one needs to be fond of the vice of greed, or needs to think that greed suffices for an economic ethic. Such a Machiavellian theory, “greed is good,” has undermined ethical thinking about the Bourgeois Era. It has especially done so during the past three decades in smart-aleck hangouts such as Wall Street or the Department of Economics.

Prudence is a great virtue among the seven principal virtues. But greed is the sin of prudence only — namely, the admitted virtue of prudence when it is not balanced by the other six, becoming therefore a vice. That is the central point of Deirdre McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues, of 2006, or for that matter of Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, of 1759 (so original and up-to-date is McCloskey).

Nor has the Bourgeois Era led in fact to a poisoning of the virtues. In a collection of mini-essays asking “Does the Free Market Corrode Moral Character?” the political theorist Michael Walzer replied “Of course it does.” But then he wisely adds that any social system corrodes one or another virtue. That the Bourgeois Era surely has tempted people into thinking that greed is good, wrote Walzer, “isn’t itself an argument against the free market. Think about the ways democratic politics also corrodes moral character. Competition for political power puts people under great pressure . . . to shout lies at public meeting, to make promises they can’t keep.”

Or think about the ways even a mild socialism puts people under great pressure to commit the sins of envy or state-enforced greed or violence or environmental imprudence. Or think about the ways the alleged affective and altruistic relations of social reproduction in America before the alleged commercial revolution put people under great pressure to obey their husbands in all things and to hang troublesome Quakers and Anabaptists.

That is to say, any social system, if it is not to dissolve into a war of all against all, needs ethics internalized by its participants. It must have some device — preaching, movies, the press, child raising, the state — to slow down the corrosion of moral character, at any rate by the standard the society sets. The Bourgeois Era has set a higher social standard than others, abolishing slavery and giving votes to women and the poor.

For further progress Walzer the communitarian puts his trust in an old conservative argument, an ethical education arising from good-intentioned laws. One might doubt that a state strong enough to enforce such laws would remain uncorrupted for long, at any rate outside of northern Europe. In any case, contrary to a common opinion since 1848 the arrival of a bourgeois, business-respecting civilization did not corrupt the human spirit, despite temptations. Mostly in fact it elevated the human spirit.

Walzer is right to complain that “the arrogance of the economic elite these last few decades has been astonishing.” So it has. But the arrogance comes from the smartaleck theory that greed is good, not from the moralized economy of trade and betterment that Smith and Mill and later economists saw around them, and which continues even now to spread.

The Bourgeois Era did not thrust aside, as Sellers the historian elsewhere claims in rhapsodizing about the world we have lost, lives “of enduring human values of family, trust, cooperation, love, and equality.” Good lives such as these can be and actually are lived on a gigantic scale in the modern, bourgeois town. In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, John Kumalo, from a village in Natal, and now a big man in Johannesburg, says, “I do not say we are free here.” A black man under apartheid in South Africa in 1948 could hardly say so. “But at least I am free of the chief. At least I am free of an old and ignorant man.”

The Revaluation, in short, came out of a rhetoric — what the Dutch economist Arjo Klamer calls the “conversation” — that would, and will, enrich the world. We are not doomed. If we have a sensible and fact-based conversation about economics and economic history and politics we will do pretty well, for Rio and Rotterdam and the rest.

Deirdre N. McCloskeyDeirdre N. McCloskey

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2000 to 2015 in economics, history, English, and communication. A well-known economist and historian and rhetorician, she has written 17 books and around 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistical theory to transgender advocacy and the ethics of the bourgeois virtues. Her latest book, out in January 2016 from the University of Chicago Press—Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World—argues for an “ideational” explanation for the Great Enrichment 1800 to the present.

Why Students Give Capitalism an ‘F’ by B.K. Marcus

bernie sanders half of a sign socialismNot only are young voters more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, they are also more likely to support the most left-wing Democrats. In recent polls of voters under 30, self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders beats the more mainstream Hillary Clinton by almost six-to-one.

Former professor Mark Pastin, writing in the Weekly Standard, acknowledges some of Clinton’s flaws as a candidate, but concludes that “the most compelling explanation” for young Democrats’ overwhelming preference for Sanders “is that young voters actually like the idea of a socialist revolution.”

I’m embarrassed to confess that when I was a young voter, I probably would have been among the “Sandernistas.”

I don’t think Pastin is right about the revolution, though. Much of Sanders’s success in defanging the word socialism is in pairing it with an emphasis on democracy, as George Bernard Shaw and the Fabians did in an earlier era. Democratic socialists — at least among my comrades — preferred the idea of evolutionary socialism, and we tried hard to distance ourselves from the revolutionary folks.

Whether by evolution or revolution, however, what we all sought was less competition and more cooperation, less commerce and more compassion. Above all, we wanted greater equality.

“When I asked my students what they thought socialism meant,” Pastin writes, “they would generally recite some version of the Marxist chestnut ‘from each according to ability and to each according to need.'” That sounds about right, but add to that the assumption that it’s government’s job to effect the transfer.

My father, gently skeptical of my politics, pointed out a problem confronting American socialists: we tended to imagine ourselves on the receiving end of the redistribution — rob from the rich and give to the rest of us. “However poor we may think we are in the United States,” he told me, “we would have to give up most of what we now have in order to make everyone in the world equal.” This was strange to hear from someone always behind on the rent and facing ever-growing debt.

Pastin makes a related point: “I’ve always thought that socialism appealed to students because they have never not been on the receiving end of government largesse.”

As an informal test of his students’ egalitarian beliefs, Pastin “would offer to run the class along socialist principles, such as the mandate to take from the able and give to the needy.” Specifically, he proposed subtracting points from the A students and transferring them to those who would otherwise earn lower grades.

Even the most ardent socialist students balked at this arrangement. In fact, according to Pastin, the highest-performing students were both more likely to be self-declared socialists and more likely to meet his proposal with outrage: grading, they argued, should be a matter of merit.

Is it pure hypocrisy on the part of these rhetorical radicals, or is there a logical consistency behind this apparent contradiction in their values?

Trying to recall the details of my own callow political folly, I seem to recall three main issues behind my anti-capitalistic mentality:

  1. “Capitalism” was just the word we all used for whatever we didn’t like about the status quo, especially whatever struck us as promoting inequality. I had friends propose to me that we should consider the C-word a catchall for racism, patriarchy, and crony corporatism. If that’s what capitalism means, how could anyone be for it?
  2. Even when we left race and sex out of the equation, our understanding of commerce was zero-sum: the 1 percent grew rich by exploiting the 99 percent.
  3. For whatever reason, none of us imagined we’d ever be business people, except on the smallest possible scale: at farmer’s markets, as street vendors, in small shops. Those things weren’t capitalism. Capitalism was big business: McDonald’s, IBM, the military-industrial complex.

I don’t know how many of today’s young socialists hold these same assumptions, but a question recently posted to Quora.com sounds like it could have been written by one of my fellow lefties in the 1980s: “Should I drop out of college to disobey the capitalist world that values a human with a piece of paper?” (See Praxis strategist Derek Magill’s withering advice to the would-be dropout.)

Even if a different array of confusions drives the radical chic of millennial voters, what is clear is that they see American capitalism as rigged. “Crony capitalism,” from their perspective, is redundant — and “free market” is an oxymoron. They’re not necessarily opposed to meritocracy; they just don’t see what merit has to do with the marketplace.

Grading that would penalize the studious to reward the slackers is obviously unfair, and a sure-fire strategy to kill anyone’s incentive to do the homework. It’s not that the socialist students are applying the principle inconsistently; it’s that they don’t see what merit has to do with commerce. Some of that may be intellectual laziness, some is the result of indoctrination by anti-capitalist faculty, but much of it is also based in the reality of America’s mixed economy.

Not only have young voters spent most of their lives sheltered from the productive side of the commercial world, schooled by men and women who are themselves deliberately insulated from the marketplace, but time spent in the reality of the private sector is hardly an education in what the advocates of economic freedom have in mind when we talk about the free market.

If my own experience is any guide, today’s democratic socialists will have to spend a lot of time unlearning much of what they’ve been taught.

Pastin’s informal experiment is an illuminating first step, and it’s a powerful way to expose the conflict between his students’ understanding of merit and the socialists’ understanding of equality. But there’s also a danger in comparing the economy to the classroom. By offering his grade redistribution as an analogy for socialism, Pastin seems to imply that the merit-based grade system better resembles a free market. But that’s silly.

For one thing, studying hard for your next exam may improve your own GPA, but it probably doesn’t help your classmates. In contrast, an unhampered marketplace makes everyone better off, however unequally.

More significantly, in a free economy, there is no one person in the role of the grade-giving professor. In the absence of coercion, power has a hard time remaining that centralized. Yes, wealth can be seen as a kind of grade, but in the free market, an entrepreneur’s profits and losses are like millions of cumulative grades from the consumers. A+ for improving our lives. F for wasting time and resources.

That kind of spontaneous, decentralized, self-regulating prosperity is every bit as radical as the visions of young socialists, minus the impoverishing effects of coerced redistribution. It’s almost certainly not what they imagine when they say they oppose “capitalism.”

B.K. MarcusB.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman.

The $15 Minimum Wage and the End of Teen Work by Jack Salmon

A new report from JP Morgan Chase & Co. finds that the summer employment rate for teenagers is nearing a record low at 34 percent. The report surveyed 15 US cities and found that despite an increase in summer positions available over a two year period, only 38 percent of teens and young adults found summer jobs.

This would be worrying by itself given the importance of work experience in entry-level career development, but it is also part of a long-term trend. Since 1995 the rate of seasonal teenage employment has declined by over a third from around 55 percent to 34 percent in 2015. The report does not attempt to examine why summer youth employment has fallen over the past two decades. If it had, it would probably find one answer in the minimum wage.

Most of the 15 cities studied in this report have minimum wage rates above the federal level, with cities such as Seattle having a rate more than double that. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics seen in the chart show exactly how a drastic rise in the minimum wage rate affects the rate of employment.

Seattle has experienced the largest 3 month job loss in its history last year, following the introduction of a $15 minimum wage. We can only imagine the impact such a change has had on the prospects of employment for the young and unskilled.

Raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs in the long-run. It is difficult to measure this long-run effect in terms of the numbers of never materializing jobs. However, the key mechanism behind the model—that more labor-intensive establishments are replaced by more capital-intensive ones—is supported by evidence. That is why recent research suggesting that minimum wages barely reduce the number of jobs in the short-run, should be taken with caution. Several years down the line, a higher real minimum wage can lead to much larger employment losses.

Nevertheless, politicians continue to push the idea that minimum wage laws are somehow helping the young “earn a decent wage.” It is important to remember the underlying motives behind pushes for higher minimum wage rates. Milton Friedman characterized it as an “unholy coalition of do-gooders on the one hand and special interests on the other; special interests being the trade unions.”

Several empirical studies have been conducted over the course of more than two decades, with all evidence pointing toward negative effects of minimum wage rises on employment levels among the young and unskilled. A study conducted by David Neumark and William Wascher in 1995 noted that “such increases raise the probability that more-skilled teenagers leave school and displace lower-skilled workers from their jobs. These findings are consistent with the predictions of a competitive labor market model that recognizes skill differences among workers. In addition, we find that the displaced lower-skilled workers are more likely to end up non-enrolled and non-employed.”

Policy makers who continuously raise the minimum wage simply assure that those young people, whose skills are not sufficient to justify that kind of wage, will instead remain unemployed. In an interview, Friedman famously asked “What do you call a person whose labor is worth less than the minimum wage? Permanently unemployed.”

The upshot: Raising the minimum wage at both federal and local levels denies youth the skills and experience they need to get their career going.

This post first appeared at CEI.org.

Jack SalmonJack Salmon

Jack Salmon is a research associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The Bible and Hayek on What We Owe Strangers by Sarah Skwire

It’s so much easier to sympathize with our own problems and with the problems of those we love than with the problems of complete strangers.

Adam Smith observes in The Theory of Moral Sentiments that our ability to sympathize with ourselves is, in fact, so out of all proportion to our ability to sympathize with others that the thought of losing one of our little fingers can keep us up all night in fearful anticipation, while we can sleep easily with the knowledge that hundreds of thousands on the opposite side of the world have just died in an earthquake.

Hayek makes the same point in The Fatal Conceit:

Moreover, the structures of the extended order are made up not only of individuals but also of many, often overlapping, sub-orders within which old instinctual responses, such as solidarity and altruism, continue to retain some importance by assisting voluntary collaboration, even though they are incapable, by themselves, of creating a basis for the more extended order. Part of our present difficulty is that we must constantly adjust our lives, our thoughts and our emotions, in order to live simultaneously within different kinds of orders according to different rules.

It may not be the best part of our humanity, but it is a very human part. We care more about those we see more often, understand more thoroughly, and with whom we share more in common.

And maybe that’s not so bad. We treat family differently, after all. My daughter will get a giant pink fluffy stuffed unicorn from me on her birthday. I don’t believe that I am similarly obligated to provide fuzzy equines for all other eight-year-olds. Different treatment is a way of acknowledging different kinds of bonds between people and different levels of responsibility to them.

All of this is on my mind because the other night, after I gave a talk on liberty and culture, an audience member and I had a discussion about banking, debt, and interest rates during which he carefully explained to me how Jews lend each other money for no interest, but when they lend to Christians, the sky’s the limit. Everyone knows it, because it’s in the Bible.

He was right, sort of. It is in the Bible, sort of.

It’s right there in Deuteronomy 23:

You shall not give interest to your brother [whether it be] interest on money, interest on food, or interest on any [other] item for which interest is [normally] taken. You may [however], give interest to a gentile, but to your brother you shall not give interest, in order that the Lord your God shall bless you in every one of your endeavors on the land to which you are coming to possess.

But textual interpretation is a tricky business. And textual interpretation of a text that has existed for thousands of years and been wrangled with by millions of interpreters — well, it doesn’t get much trickier than that.

But it seems worth noting that the word used here (both in translation and in Hebrew) is literally “brother.” This has been interpreted over the years to mean “fellow Jew.” But the word, as given, is brother.

What I think the passage means to emphasize by using this word — regardless of whether we are talking about literal brothers, or just “brothers” — is the importance and of treating those who are closest to us with particular care and concern. The kind of business relationship that is part of Hayek’s extended order, or that is located in an outer ring of Smith’s concentric circles of sympathy, doesn’t come with extra moral responsibilities to one another. A price is agreed on. A bargain is struck. An exchange is made. Everyone is content. But in an intimate order — with brothers or sisters, husbands or wives, parents or children — we have a responsibility to give more and do more than in the extended order.

And so observant Jews are told that they should not pay or charge interest to brothers — whomever they consider those brothers to be.

Though it has been interpreted uncharitably by many over the years, this passage from Deuteronomy is not a passage about cheating the outsider. This is a passage about taking special care of those who are closest to our hearts. It’s hard to find anything to object to in that.

Sarah SkwireSarah Skwire

Sarah Skwire is the poetry editor of the Freeman and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis. She is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Homeschooled Weirdoes and the Culture of Conformity by B.K. Marcus

Remember that weird kid in school? I don’t mean the really scary one. I mean the borderline oddball. The one you had to talk to a bit to spot the weirdness. The boy who never knew what TV show everyone was talking about. The girl who, when you asked her what her favorite music group was, answered some long name that ended in “quartet.” The kid who thought you meant soccer when you said football.

How did you treat that kid? (Or were you that kid?)

In “Homeschooling, Socialization, and the New Groupthink,” I suggested that the most useful definition of socialization is “ensuring that a child becomes sociable, that he or she develops the intelligence and social reflexes that promote peaceful and pleasurable interactions.” I also suggested that some of homeschooling’s critics might mean something more sinister: indoctrination into a particular vision of society.

But after reading my article, third-grade schoolteacher Heather Lakemacher, commenting on Facebook, pointed out yet a different meaning of socialization: not seeming weird.

This is the real reason, she said, “why this stereotype of the poorly socialized homeschooler exists.” Whereas I had only addressed adult perceptions of homeschooled children, the true culprit, she said, is other kids:

Many of us who were educated in a traditional school have vivid memories of meeting other kids our age who were homeschooled and thinking, “Oh my god! This kid is so WEIRD!” It’s entirely possible that the child in question grew up to be a happy, well-adjusted, productive member of society. …

However, I think the stereotype exists because of the power of those childhood interactions with a peer who just didn’t behave in the way we were expecting them to behave. That’s not an argument against homeschooling, but data will always have a hard time dispelling emotionally charged memories.

She’s right. Odd kids can make a lasting impression.

Grownups regularly note how polite my homeschooled son is, or how he’ll talk to them at all when so many other kids clam up and fail to make eye contact. Adults find his lack of awkwardness with them charming. But what do schooled kids see?

Diane Flynn Keith, a veteran homeschooling mom and author of the book Carschooling, writes that homeschooled kids are, in fact, “not well-socialized in the traditional school sense.”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there’s nothing “normal” about our kids. Your homeschooled child is odd compared to the schooled population because they have not experienced ongoing school-based socialization and standardization. …

They haven’t been indoctrinated in the same way. They have not been steeped in the popular consumer culture to the degree that most schooled kids have been. They are not adult-phobic and peer-dependent. (“Yes, My Grown Homeschooled Children Are Odd — And Yours Will Be Too!“)

And most of the time, homeschooling parents love that about our kids — and about homeschooling in general. We don’t want them to be standard. Whether we admit it or not, we tend to think they’re better than the standard. But it’s true that our socially flexible and resilient children can be puzzling to their traditionally schooled peers, and vice versa.

So why does the assessment of weirdness flow only in one direction? Why don’t homeschooled kids think the mainstream schoolchildren are weird?

One answer is that our kids know the mainstream experience through television, movies, and books. They may not always track the finer distinctions between Degrassi High and Hogwarts, but they certainly know a lot more about schools and schooling than mainstream kids know about education outside a classroom.

But I think that even without the pop-cultural lens on the schooling experience, homeschooled kids are just less likely to see anyone as weird. It’s just not a part of their semantic reflexes. Instead they think, “I don’t get him,” or “I’m not into the same stuff she is.”

As a result, homeschooled kids aren’t just more tolerant of diversity; they’re probably also more diverse. And that’s a lot of what gets labeled weird by those who are better assimilated into the mainstream culture.

What’s probably obvious to anyone familiar with homeschooling is that it’s good for the emotional health of kids who don’t easily fit in. What is less obvious is the damage that a culture of conformity does not just to the oddballs in that culture but also to the kids who conform with ease — and to the liberty of the larger society.

For over half a century, studies have shown that the need for social acceptance not only changes our behavior but can even make us perceive the world differently — and incorrectly.

In the early 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments on the dangers of group influence. When presented with simple problems that 95 percent of individuals could answer correctly when free of group influence, 75 percent of Asch’s test subjects would get the answer wrong when it meant concurring with the group.

In 2005, neuroscientist Gregory Berns conducted an updated version of Asch’s experiments, complete with brain scans to determine if the wrong answers were a conscious acquiescence to social pressure or if, instead, test subjects believed that their group-influenced wrong answers were in fact correct. Not only did the subjects report that they thought their wrong answers were right; the brain scans seemed to confirm it: they showed greater activity in the problem-solving regions of the brain than in those areas associated with conscious decision-making. And the nonconformists who went against the group and gave correct answers showed heightened activity in the part of the brain associated with fear and anxiety.

Commenting on the implications of these experiments, author Susan Cain writes,

Many of our most important civic institutions, from elections to jury trials to the very idea of majority rule, depend on dissenting voices. But when the group is literally capable of changing our perceptions, and when to stand alone is to activate primitive, powerful, and unconscious feelings of rejection, then the health of these institutions seems far more vulnerable than we think. (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking)

Groupthink, in other words, is dangerous to a free society. And we don’t always realize when we’re not thinking for ourselves.

This kind of cognitive conformity, however, isn’t fixed or universal. Not only does it vary, for example, between East and West; it has also declined in the West since the 1950s, according to a 1996 review of 133 Asch-type studies from 17 countries. That review assessed the cultures in which the studies took place to see if their results “related cross-culturally to individualism [versus] collectivism.” Unsurprisingly, test subjects were least susceptible to the reality-distorting effects of the group in the more individualistic national cultures.

We should expect the same to be true of more and less individualistic subcultures. I bet homeschoolers, for example, are less likely to show the Asch effect. I suspect the same thing of the oddballs at school.

That doesn’t mean everyone should homeschool, or that only weirdoes can be independent thinkers, but it does suggest that the more a culture values independence and diversity, the less vulnerable it will be to the distortions of conformity. And if socialization means helping kids fit in more easily with the culture of their peers, then parents of homeschoolers and schooled kids alike may want to reconsider the value of socializing our children.

B.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman.

Our Awesome, Creative, Fashionable Knockoff Culture by Jeffrey Tucker

The modern fashion industry is one of the most creative, dynamic, fast-moving, profitable, and downright interesting sectors in the economy. But right now, there are worries in the air. It seems like the old-fashioned fashioned runway show — groovy music, cameras flashing, debuts of new stuff you can buy months later — is no longer working for the industry.

“Everyone drank the Kool-Aid for too long, but it’s just not working anymore,” Diane von Furstenberg of the Council of Fashion Designers of America told theNew York Times. “We are in a moment of complete confusion between what was and what will be. Everyone has to learn new rules.”

The problem, as industry sees it, comes down to two factors.

The first problem: smartphones. As soon as the models hit runways, the images are spread everywhere and instantly. They are Tweeted, Instagramed, Youtubed, Facebooked, and instantly saturate the culture. This makes life easier for “pirates” (in quotes because you can’t actually “steal” a design).

They can go into production very quickly and have knockoffs on the shelves in weeks. The price premium that has made high fashion highly profitable is no longer working as it once did.

IWWIWWIWI

Also contributing is the influence of what is called “IWWIWWIWI”: I Want What I Want When I Want It. Rapid information flows have heightened the intensity of demand. With complete public awareness of new fashions happening within hours of their being made public, people are already ready for something new by the time the clothing is available for purchase. IWWIWWIWI is dramatically shortening the time structure of production.

Even the traditional four seasons of clothing, with a traditional lag between display and availability, is changing. Designers are being pressured to make new designs available the day of the show. Releasing Spring fashions in January and Fall fashions in May isn’t doing it anymore. The seasons that have shaped the industry for many decades are becoming one, ever-evolving season. “Panseasonal,” they call it.

Sharing the Runway

What has this meant for the runway show? They’ve had to change to become massive public events, featuring concerts, album releases, fireworks, courting of editors and writers, and elaborate media shows. The big show this year was in Madison Square Garden with 18,000 attendees and ticket sales running as high at $6,000 on the secondary market, featuring the release of Kanye West’s new album.

Here’s the rub: fashion itself plays a diminished role relative to pop music and the glitzy stardom associated with it. In fact, the fashion industry is seeking to gain attention by hitching its act to the popularity of other sectors. That’s apparently wounded some egos.

As always, however, the fashion industry will change and adapt. This is an industry trained over generations to compete, persuade, and sell. Cronyism doesn’t work in fashion like it does for banking, education, or even software. There are no bailouts, no subsidies to speak of, and no government favors that insiders can count on to protect them against upstarts. And these upstarts can come from anywhere.

Markets without IP

This is the industry’s second gripe: its lack of government protection.

Here’s the crucial and counterintuitive fact: intellectual property legislation, as it applies to literary works and software, has never applied to fashion. If you see something, you can copy it. It’s legal and expected. This is why even big box stores like Walmart and Target carry cheap knockoffs of the very thing you saw on New York runways just a few months ago. And it’s why the distance between what average people can look like and what the rich look like is growing shorter by the day.

The absence of strict rules has created this hyper-competitive environment and made less discernible the class identity distinctions associated with clothing.

There are a few intellectual property rules. You can copyright original prints and patterns and novel designs. That rule, however, hardly ever applies, and even then, it is almost impossible to enforce. It requires litigation and time, and the courts have not consistently sided in favor of the designer, so it is an iffy proposition. True, Christian Louboutin won his lawsuit to protect the red sole of his shoes. But this is rare. And the big money isn’t always on the side of the copyrighters — companies like Forever 21 specialize in knockoffs and hardly ever lose a case.

A Culture of Fakes

There is also the issue of trademark, which applies to brands. Only Calvin Klein can really make a Calvin Klein. Only Nike can be Nike✓. But trademark has done next to nothing to stop the flood of knockoffs, as anyone who has shopped the streets of any large city can tell you. In a typical shopping district in Istanbul or Rome, or just about any other major city in the world, fakes and the real thing are sold practically next door to each other, and all sellers make money doing so. The fakes are sometimes so sophisticated that it takes an industry expert to tell the difference.

Efforts by law enforcement have done nothing to shut down the industry of fakes. And this is despite efforts by ICE, CBP, FDA, FBI, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Postal Service, and other alphabet soup agencies. In the end, most everyone has come to terms with the reality: the industry is being created by a culture of fakes.

You might say that this is a market in fraud, but that’s not quite accurate. Consumers know exactly what they are buying. They are not being fooled. They want to spend far less for something that looks very expensive. The people meant to be fooled are third parties who see them wearing it. And those with the financial means — and high risk aversion to having their friends find out that they are not carrying a real Gucci — pay for it. Everyone makes money, and no one is physically harmed.

Finally, there are patents that apply to actual new innovations, such as the Vibram 5-finger shoe. It was the coolest thing to happen to footwear in ages. So of course everyone wanted to make their own. Even with the patent, and deep pockets to enforce the patent, it didn’t work. Within months after this implausible shoe caught on, other companies made 4-finger and 3-finger models, and everyone had the new running style ramp up. Vibram sued, but they eventually settled, after finding that it was fighting a losing battle.

A Market that Works

Apart from these two protections, fashion is a free market, and this accounts for why the industry is so crazy competitive, innovative, and profitable — even if those profits aren’t as concentrated as they once were.

Of course, the industry’s biggest players don’t approve. For years, they’ve been pushing Congress for legislation that would apply copyright to fashion. So far, Congress hasn’t gone along. But it is hardly surprising that industry would want to ratchet down the competitive mania a few notches. Having legislation on their side would promote a longer period of profitability for unique items. It would permit the largest players to enjoy great safety, and perhaps not have to sweat so much about staying ahead of the curve.

It’s good that Congress has never gone along. The free market in fashion has been beneficial for everyone, in the long run. Contrary to our standard assumptions about intellectual property, its virtual absence in fashion hasn’t reduced innovation at all. In fact, the entire industry provides a paradigmatic look at how a creative industry can function without government regulation and monopolization.

Since the advent of the capitalist revolution in the late middle ages, the market has provided humankind with an endless variety of garments at ever low prices, reducing class barriers and delighting the working multitudes at the same time. This continues to this day, despite ever falling prices for just about everything. In a global market without substantial state regulation, one might not expect a beautiful creative order to emerge. But that is exactly what has happened.

This market is too marvelous, productive, and delightful to be brought down by the advent of smartphones and social media. Fashion will survive and thrive as never before.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE and CLO of the startup Liberty.me. Author of five books, and many thousands of articles, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. Email.

VIDEO: Be Suspicious of the Stories We Tell Ourselves by Scott Sumner

People like to think in terms of stories:

It’s a movie classic. The lovers are out for a walk when a villain dashes out of his house and starts fighting the man. The woman takes refuge in the house; having seen off his rival, the villain re-enters and chases after her. Yet the hero returns, pulling open the door so that the heroine can escape. The villain chases the lovers, until they finally flee, and he smashes his own home apart in fury.

Who are these characters? None of them ever made another movie, and you won’t find them in any directories of famous actors. They are, in order of appearance, a large triangle (villain), a small triangle (hero), and a circle (heroine). The animated film was made in 1944 by the psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel of Smith College in Massachusetts, whose paper ‘An Experimental Study of Apparent Behaviour’ is a milestone in understanding the human impulse to construct narratives.

At one level, their movie is just a series of geometric shapes moving around on a white background. It appears to lack any formal elements of story at all. Yet study groups (of undergraduate women) who saw the film in 1944 were remarkably consistent in their judgment of what it was ‘about’. Thirty-five out of 36 decided that the big triangle was a mean, irritable bully, and half identified the small triangle as valiant and spirited.

That’s a striking result: near unanimity on the emotional journey of a bunch of shapes. Then again, how surprising were these findings? Abstract animation existed as early as the 1920s, and experimental animators such as the Hungarian Jules Engel had already shown in sequences such as the Mushroom Dance in Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940) that very little visual information is needed to create characters and story. So perhaps research was just catching up with what the empiricism of art had already discovered.

I’ve found that stories get in the way of logical thinking in economics. When I try to explain that a tight money policy led to the recession of 2008, I have to contend with the fact that people have already interpreted the events of 2008 through a very different set of stories, ones much more consistent with Hollywood. (Indeed there is a new example in the theaters right now.)

People don’t like my claim that the Fed needed a more expansionary policy because:

  1. It would “bail out” foolish borrowers (or foolish lenders?)
  2. I would simply be “papering over” deeper structural problems (or perhaps the failures of the Obama administration.)
  3. It would be taking the “easy way out”, not making the hard decision to endure a period of austerity.
  4. “There’s a price to be paid” for the reckless excesses of the housing bubble.
  5. It would just be “kicking the can” down the road.

These metaphors do more to obfuscate than enlighten, but they appeal to our sense that society can be understood through stories. Trump and Sanders have cleverly exploited this human weakness, in their current campaigns.

At times it seems like the press is so enamored with stories that they don’t even need any facts. Consider this assertion in a recent WSJ “story”:

After substantially revaluing the yuan over a decade in response to protectionist threats, China now finds the strong dollar has left its currency grossly uncompetitive with the euro, the yen and all the rest.

The alarming recent devaluation of the yuan, while a sensible response for China, is creating strains throughout emerging economies and deep uncertainty through all global supply chains.

When you look at the numbers, this comment literally makes no sense. The Chinese yuan has been very strong in the last few years, and has strongly appreciated against the other emerging market currencies. But it seems to fit a deeply held narrative, which people cling to because it makes a good story. China’s a “big triangle,” trampling all over the “smaller triangles,” like Brazil and Indonesia and Vietnam.

Banking is another example. In the recent crisis, the biggest problems were in the small and mid-sized banks. The FDIC (i.e., we taxpayers) spent tens of billions of dollars paying off the depositors of the smaller banks, who made lots of reckless subprime mortgages. But it makes a better story to blame the biggest banks, so that’s become the standard narrative.

Then there was the orgy of predatory borrowing: people lying about their incomes to get mortgages. But that doesn’t make a good story, so let’s make it “predatory lending.” Sometimes their are competing stories, as when the right claims the police are a “thin blue line” protecting civilization from barbarism, whereas the left sees the police as powerful bullies, picking on the most downtrodden members of society.

Bernie Sanders sees a financial system where Grandma (Jimmy Stewart banks) was replaced by the wolf (Goldman Sachs).

In my view, Alice in Wonderland best captures the counterintuitive nature of monetary economics.

PS: I’m sure I stole part of this from the very first TED talk I ever saw, by Tyler Cowen:

Cross-posted from Econlog.

Scott SumnerScott Sumner

Scott B. Sumner is the director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center and a professor at Bentley University. He blogs at the Money Illusion and Econlog.

Homeschooling, Socialization, and the New Groupthink by B.K. Marcus

“But what about socialization?”

We who educate our children outside the school system confront an exhausting array of accusations posing as concerns, but the most puzzling — and the most persistent — is the socialization question. For years, I’ve taken it at face value:How, the skeptic seems to be asking, will your kids ever learn to be sociable if you keep them locked up at home all day?

That very few homeschooled kids lead the lives of sheltered isolation implied by this question does not seem to assuage the questioner. There’s something kids are assumed to receive from the process of group schooling — especially from large, government-funded schools — that helps them fit in better with society at large.

Learning to Be a Cog

I recently talked to a mom who wants to homeschool her daughter. The girl’s dad objects to the idea because, he insists, home education will fail to prepare her for “the real world.” I find it significant that this man is career military. The real world, as he knows it, is regimented, tightly controlled, and bureaucratized into stasis — at least compared with the very different real world of voluntary exchange and spontaneous order.

If your goal for your children is a lifetime of government work, then by all means send them to public school: the bigger, the better. But if, by “socialization,” you mean ensuring that a child becomes sociable, that he or she develops the intelligence and social reflexes that promote peaceful and pleasurable interactions with larger groups of friends and strangers, then the irony of the what-about-socialization question is that it gets the situation precisely backwards. It is schooled kids, segregated by age and habituated to the static and artificial restrictions of the schooling environment, who demonstrate more behavioral problems while in school and greater difficulty adjusting to the post-school world.

Does “Socialization” Mean Peer Pressure?

While homeschooled kids learn to interact daily with people of all ages, schools teach their students to think of adults primarily in terms of avoiding trouble (or sometimes seeking it). That leaves the social lessons to their peers, narrowly defined as schoolmates roughly their own age.

If your goal for your children is a lifetime of government work, then by all means send them to public school: the bigger, the better. 

Thomas Smedley, who prepared a master’s thesis for Radford University of Virginia on “The Socialization of Homeschool Children,” put it this way:

In the public school system, children are socialized horizontally, and temporarily, into conformity with their immediate peers. Home educators seek to socialize their children vertically, toward responsibility, service, and adulthood, with an eye on eternity.

As a result, most homeschooled kids grow into well-adjusted, flexible, and emotionally mature adults, open to a diversity of peers and social contexts.

Psychology professor Richard G. Medlin wrote in “Homeschooling and the Question of Socialization Revisited,”

Homeschooling parents expect their children to respect and get along with people of diverse backgrounds.… Compared to children attending conventional schools … research suggest that they have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults.

Furthermore, says Medlin, “They are happy, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives.” How often do you hear those words applied to any other group of children?

Meanwhile, “there seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence,”according to researcher Michael Brady, “that children socialized in a peer-dominant environment are at higher risk for developing social maladjustment issues than those that are socialized in a parent-monitored environment.”

The Persistence of the Socialization Myth

The contention that kids kept out of large group schools will somehow suffer in their social development never made any sense to begin with. (In fact, large group schools may hurt social development.) Did no one enjoy any social skills before the era of mass education?

Decades of research now support the common-sense conclusion: the artificially hierarchical and age-segregated structure of modern schooling produces a warped form of socialization with unhealthy attitudes toward both authority and peers.

The students who escape this fate are those with strong parental and other adult role models and active engagement with a diverse community outside school. Homeschooling holds no monopoly on engaged parents or robust communities, but those advantages are an almost automatic part of home education.

So why does the socialization myth refuse to die?

Perhaps we have been misunderstanding the critics all along. Homeschoolers think of socialization as the development of an autonomous individual’s social skills for healthy interactions within a larger community. But maybe what we consider healthy isn’t at all what the critics have in mind.

Reprogramming the Quiet Child

Susan Cain’s 2012 book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, does not specifically address homeschooling, but Cain does talk about the history of education and the evolution of what she calls the “Extrovert Ideal — the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.”

Starting in the 1920s, Cain tells us,

The experts advised parents to socialize their children well and schools to change their emphasis from book-learning to “assisting and guiding the developing personality.” Educators took up this mantle enthusiastically.…

Well-meaning parents of the midcentury sent their kids to school at increasingly young ages, where the main assignment was learning to socialize. (emphasis added)

In the 19th century, education was still understood to mean the development of an individual’s character, intellect, and knowledge. By the mid-20th century, education reformers had shifted the emphasis away from preparing the individual student for his or her future and toward integrating individuals into a larger group and a larger vision of a reformed society.

The New Groupthink

We 21st-century Americans may think of ourselves as “unlike the starched-shirted conformists of the 1950s,” to use Cain’s phrase, but she sees the extrovert ideal asserting itself once again in what she calls “the New Groupthink,” which, she explains, “elevates teamwork above all else.”

In ever more schools, this teamwork is promoted “via an increasingly popular method of instruction called ‘cooperative’ or ‘small group’ learning.” This “cooperative” approach, whatever the intentions behind it, actually hurts students — introverts and extroverts alike — both academically and intellectually. To explain why, Cain cites the work of Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist and one of the world’s leading researchers on expertise.

Occasional solitude, it turns out, is essential to mastery in any discipline.

It’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which [Ericsson] has identified as the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly. Practice sessions that fall short of this standard are not only less useful — they’re counterproductive. They reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them.

Cain and Ericsson offer several reasons why deliberate practice is best conducted alone, “but most important,” writes Cain, “it involves working on the task that’s most challenging to you personally.”

Co-ops, study groups, playgroups, and à la carte classes mean that a homeschooled student spends plenty of time with other kids, including conventionally schooled kids. But homeschooling also allows children more alone time for the kind of learning Ericsson describes.

This is not what most schools offer; neither is it compatible with the emphasis on cooperative learning.

The Homeschooled Self

“The structure and reality of traditional schools,” writes Rebecca Kochenderfer for Homeschool.com, teach kids “to be passive and compliant, which can follow the children throughout life. Children can learn to take abuse, to ignore miserable bosses or abusive spouses later on.”

“In a traditional school,” Kochenderfer adds, “someone else usurps authority.”

Kids from homeschooling families learn a very different lesson about authority and responsibility.

Researcher John Wesley Taylor used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale to evaluate 224 homeschooled children for self-esteem. “On the global scale,” writes Taylor, “half of the homeschoolers scored at or above the 91st percentile. This condition may be due to higher achievement and mastery levels, independent study characteristics, or one-on-one tutoring situations in the homeschool environment.”

A strong “self-concept ” doesn’t mean that homeschooled kids are self-centered. “Their moral reasoning is at least as advanced as that of other children,” according to Richard G. Medlin’s research, cited earlier, “and they may be more likely to act unselfishly.” What it does mean, however, is that children educated at home are less likely to grow up to be followers.

In 1993, J. Gary Knowles, then a professor of education at the University of Michigan, surveyed 53 adults who had been taught at home by their parents. He found that nearly two-thirds were self-employed. That’s more than twice the global average and about 10 times the current national average. “That so many of those surveyed were self-employed,” said Knowles, “supports the contention that home schooling tends to enhance a person’s self-reliance and independence.”

That independence may be the real source of critics’ concerns.

“Public school educators and other critics,” Knowles commented, “question whether home-educated children will be able to become productive, participating members of a diverse and democratic society.”

But with so much evidence for the superior results achieved by homeschooling — both academically and socially — we have to question the critics’ goals. Is their concern really for the welfare of those educated outside the schools? Or is it rather, as so much of their language suggests, for the success of a particular vision of society — a vision that they fear the independently educated may not readily accommodate?

B.K. MarcusB.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman.

VIDEO: Young Frankensteins at the University of Missouri

Radical students at the University of Missouri are turning on the university which created them. They are neo-Frankensteins.

Michael A. Kline from Accuracy in Academia writes:

Most of the coverage of recent college demonstrations has been largely sympathetic to the demonstrators. Indeed, few sources were consulted who would speak any evil of them.

mizzou president tim wolfe

Nevertheless, our November author’s night speaker—William Barclay Allen—saw in them the culmination of a disturbing trend. “I have spent my whole life in academia and I can tell you I have witnessed the deterioration over the course of time,” Dr. Allen, a professor emeritus at Michigan State University, said in November. “It is no longer to be assumed that freedom of speech prevails on a university campus.”

“Instead, there are codes of speech.” Dr. Allen is the former chairman of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission.

“What I am suggesting to you is not that there are outliers, a few extremists who at college campuses especially in elite institutions who the rest of us can look at as perhaps, in their own way, testaments to our virtue because they are so unlike us,” Dr. Allen said. “No that is not the case.”

Read more.

Here is a different perspective on the problem.

RELATED ARTICLES:

College Demonstrators Aren’t Outliers

MIZZOU STUDENT JOURNALIST: Files Charges Against Prof. Melissa ‘More Muscle’ Click

U. of Missouri professor under fire in protest flap

Why Is There a Protest at the University of Missouri?

Japan wants to preserve its distinctive culture by limiting Muslim refugees

They give generously to humanitarian causes around the world, but do not want to dilute their culture by admitting refugees.  We have written many times on Japan, but once again as the Syrians are invading Europe, the Japanese are being called unwelcoming.

From USA Today:

TOKYO — It came as no surprise when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a major increase in financial support last week for migrants flooding into Western Europe — but no change in his country’s restrictive policy toward those seeking refuge in Japan.

For decades, Japan has been one of biggest contributors to international relief organizations, spending billions of dollars to help people fleeing wars, poverty and natural disasters worldwide.

Yet Japan also has been one of the least welcoming nations to refugees. Of 5,000 foreigners who requested political asylum in Japan last year, only 11 were granted safe haven, an acceptance rate that is 1/100th of the world average.

By comparison, the United States granted asylum to nearly 70% of 63,000 people who applied last year.

Refugee advocates say Japan’s reluctance to accept asylum seekers stems from a combination of factors: geographic isolation, language and cultural barriers, and a historical wariness of foreigners and a lack of interest in foreign affairs.

Somali rejected!

In one case cited by Watanabe, a Somali man’s asylum application was rejected after immigration officials concluded that while the man’s father and brother were murdered by al-Shabab terrorists, the rest of his family was not murdered and the asylum seeker remained in Somalia for several months before fleeing. The reviewing officer concluded: “We do not find that you have fear of being persecuted required by the refugee convention.”  [I’ll bet a buck that the Somali asylum seeker couldn’t even prove that his father and brother were killed by al-Shabab!—ed]

There is more, continue reading here.

For American readers, just so you know, as the UNHCR is sending Somalis back to Somalia from its Kenyan camps we admitted 8,858 Somalis to the U.S. in FY 2015, here (many from the Kenyan camps!).

RELATED ARTICLES:

Welcoming Communities Campaign announced by White House, government goodies for your “welcoming” town

Is your church doing a “Crop Walk,” if so you are funding Church World Service, a federal refugee resettlement contractor

Pop Goes the Culture

America and the West as well as parts of Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, have a real problem on their hands.  It’s a problem that is growing.  But nowhere is it more glaring and out of control than in the United States.  Even Canada has sensed this growing problem and actually exports their problem to the United States.

I’m talking about Pop Culture.  You know what I am talking about.  We have a culture that is almost totally centered on entertainment.  Not just the product such as music or movies or art and such.  But centered on those that produce that music, movie, art or such.

We glamourize the “stars” and put them on a pedestal and no matter what these people say or do, they are hardly ever demonized in any way.  In some cases, the “star” can even get away with murder.  At least in the public’s eye, they can even if the law finds them guilty.

This is dangerous at best and a complete societal breakdown in the making at worst.  We have started to make our political and legal leaders “pop stars”.  We determine who will lead us locally and nationally based on how well they look on TV and how well they speak.

Substance comes second.  Especially if its Liberal ideology that they are spewing.  In that case, substance my actually come last.

We have an entire generation that is actually less educated than their parents’ generation.  Even though the younger set has a greater percentage of college degrees.  They actually know less and are heavily influenced by sound bites and pop culture.

That pop culture mentality bleeds into politics at all levels of government.  The younger set demand more government intervention and higher taxes but do not fully understand the ramifications of their wants and desires.  So when something hits them in their wallet, they blame others instead of realizing they got exactly what they asked for.

Yet they will take to the streets or hit the Internet and spew their limited knowledge and decry how unjust the current system is.  Not understanding that they are the main reason for their own discontent.

Politicians pay attention to this nonsense as well.  If you stop and think about it, you will notice all the laws that we have enacted that were influenced by pop culture.

The whole Religious Freedom Law fiasco in Indiana and Arkansas is proof of this.  This shows how shallow the knowledge of many in the younger generation is.  They don’t know or understand that many states have similar laws already on the books and the world is not falling apart.

The younger set doesn’t know or realize that then President Bill Clinton signed a similar law into existence back in 1993 with huge fanfare from the left, as I recall.  Yet sound bite pop culture has decided this “new” law in these two states is directed totally at the gay community and has nothing to do with religious freedom.

However, when you ask these same pop culture gurus point blank, if you had a t-shirt shop and you were gay would you want to be forced to print a bunch of shirts that were anti-gay?  Their immediate and total reaction is a flat no.  But they are too brain dead to relate that same scenario to the other side.

It’s a total selfish, self-absorbed mind set.  Its all about them.  Nobody else counts in their eyes.  Its all about being popular and doing the popular thing and thinking in the popular think.  There is no room for being thoughtful towards your fellow citizen.  There is no room for doing what is best for your community.  There is only room for what is best for each of them and what makes them feel good about themselves.

You may think that we cannot change that mindset and mentality.  But we can.  Its called real and complete education.  And that kind of education begins at home.  It takes parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles to counter the over simplification of pop culture.

It takes true patriots and true historians to set the record straight and to force the younger generation to think beyond the sound bites.  To delve deeper than the surface interaction they are used to.  It takes a few wise people to shout out the truth and do it often.

We can pop this pop culture so it goes back to the position and place it belongs.  Pop Culture belongs at the back of the bus and should be viewed only as entertainment, a temporary distraction and should not be construed as the main stream thought that rules our politics and our lives.

In the end, if we do not pop this pop culture, we will end up being popped and imprisoned by it.

VIDEO: Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists”

Students at John Paul the Great Catholic University put together a 3-minute inspirational video to commemorate the canonization of John Paul II with something that is near and dear to our hearts, his Letter to Artists!

For those who are unfamiliar with this hidden gem of John Paul II’s papacy: on Easter of 1999, John Paul II wrote a letter to all who work in the creative fields – poets, writers, actors, musicians, media professionals, etc. – to remind them of their vocation to Beauty. He urged them not to waste their artistic talent but to develop it, and to put it at the service of humanity as an authentic “vehicle of culture.”

Many of the students Great Catholic University are pursuing careers in the arts –  film directing, screenwriting, acting, game design – and fifteen years later John Paul II’s letter remains a source of both inspiration and challenge.

The video below is merely a 3-minute summary of a rich, 6,000 word letter. Not all lines spoken are direct quotes, and some are paraphrased, inferred, or rearranged, while still retaining the message of the original letter. To read the full version his Letter to Artists, click here.